Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

consent of the governed, and republican in form, had spread over all the Americas, except such portions
as were still colonies, and was practically true of even most of them. Republican institutions had been

adopted by France and Portugal, and the spirit of democracy had permeated Great Britain and Norway

and was gaining yearly victories elsewhere. In 1912 the giant bulk of China adopted the form of

government commended to he; by the experience of the nation which, more than any other, had

preserved her integrity. Autocracy and divine right, however, were by no means dead. On the contrary,

girt and prepared, they were arming themselves for a final stand. But no longer, as in 1823, was America

pitted alone against Europe. It was the world including America which was now divided against itself.

It was chiefly the Spanish War which caused the American people slowly and reluctantly to realize this
new state of things - that the ocean was no longer a barrier in a political or military sense, and that the

fate of each nation was irrevocably bound up with the fate of all. As the years went by, however,

Americans came to see that the isolation proclaimed by President Monroe was no longer real, and that

isolation even as a tradition could not, either for good or for ill, long endure. All thoughtful men saw that

a new era needed a new policy; the wiser, however, were not willing to give up all that they had acquired

in the experience of the past. They remembered that the separation of the continents was not proclaimed

as an end in itself but as a means of securing American purposes. Those national purposes had been: first,

the securing of the right of self-government on the part of the United States; second, the securing of the

right of other nations to govern themselves. Both of these aims rested on the belief that one nation should

not interfere with the domestic affairs of another. These fundamental American purposes remained, but it

was plain that the situation would force the nation to find some different method of realizing them. The

action of the United States indicated that the hopes of the people ran to the reorganization of the world in

such a way as would substitute the arbitrament of courts for that of war. Year by year the nation

committed itself more strongly to cooperation foreshadowing such an organization. While this feeling

was growing among the people, the number of those who doubted whether such a system could ward off

war altogether and forever also increased. Looking forward to the probability of war, they could not fail

to fear that the next would prove a world war, and that in the even of such a conflict, the noninterference

of the United States would not suffice to preserve it immune in any real independence.

Bibliographical Note

Each President's "Annual Message" always gives a brief survey of the international relations of the year
and often makes suggestions of future policy. Of these the most famous is Monroe's message in 1823.

Since 1860 they have been accompanied by a volume of "Foreign Relations, "giving such

correspondence as can be made public at the time. The full correspondence in particular cases is

sometimes called for by the Congress, in which case it is found in the "Executive Documents" of House

or Senate. A fairly adequate selection of all such papers before 1828 is found in "American State Papers,

Foreign Affairs." Three volumes contain the American "Treaties, Conventions, International Acts," etc.,

to 1918. A. B. Hart's "Foundations of American Foreign Policy" (1901) gives a good bibliography of

these and other sources.

More intimate material is found in the lives and works of diplomats, American and foreign. Almost all
leave some record, but there are unfortunately fewer of value since 1830 than before that date. The

"Memoirs" of John Quincy Adams (1874-1877), and his "Writings," (1913- ), are full of fire and

information, and W. C. Ford, in his "John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine," in the "American

Historical Review," vol. VII, pp. 676-696, and vol. VIII, pp. 28-52, enables us to sit at the council table

while that fundamental policy was being evolved. The most interesting work of this kind for the later

 

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